Thirty-two players contested the Open section. Since the highest graded were from Suffolk, it looked as though the bulk of the prize fund might travel north. Shaun Munson (Ipswich) was top seed with a grade of 182, and he dealt with Ilford's Howard Berlin effectively enough. Ellen Walker (Southend) had to contend with Steve Gregory (Ipswich, graded 180) and put up some fairly stern resistance before bowing to the inevitable. The most impressive first round upset was Alan Trent's victory over Michael Clapham (Ipswich), the grading difference being a mere 57 points. Alan admitted that he was now a "real" chess-player (hitherto he was just a chess parent who moved the pieces to fill in the time), as he felt the great surge of adrenalin when he realised he was beating someone he was not expected to beat.
Of the four players who made it to 2/2, Steve Williams (Colchester) was the only Essex representative, and he lost to Tony Rubin (Ipswich) in round 3. Tony was now alone on 3/3, as Richard Watts (Stowmarket) achieved a very creditable draw against Steve Gregory. Terry Turner (Powdermill) kept up with the chasing group with a win against Neil Hopgood (Colchester). Terry dropped half a point against Chris Bates (Colchester) in round 2, thereby having the privilege of playing two veterans of the team that won the National Schools' Under-9 Championship in 1992.
Round 4 saw a new leader as Tony Rubin lost to Shaun Munson. Terry Turner beat Southend club's Bill Luxton and Richard Watts defeated Michael Clapham, whose reaction to his first round defeat had been two wins. Steve Williams beat Ellen Walker. The Suffolk contingent at the top was cut back when Robert Fulford (Colchester) beat Steve Gregory, thereby sharing the lead with Shaun Munson, Terry Turner and Richard Watts. Round 5 saw hard-fought draws as Terry Turner and Robert Fulford were unable to reach a decisive result and Shaun Munson was held by Richard Watts. Steve Williams again joined the leaders after his win against Les Jones (Ipswich).
The only two last-round winners from the leading group were Shaun Munson, who beat Robert Fulford, and Terry Turner, who beat Tony Rubin. Interestingly, these two shared first prize without having played one another but having the same colour and the same score as one another in every round of the tournament. There were three players on 4.5. Richard Watts and Steve Williams drew with one another and Steve Gregory beat Chris Bates, who finished on 3.5. One particularly impressive performance from one of the lower graded players in the section was Peter Flint's 4/6. Peter, from Galleywood, is graded ony 107 but performed more like a 140.
In the under-14 section, Lawrence Trent (Ilford) was the pre-tournament favourite, but found himself on the receiving end in round 2 as Caius Turner (Powdermill) beat him in only 17 moves. Graham Walker (Southend) was a little fortunate to win his first game, as Nicholas Fenton (Colchester) missed the win of a rook, but made it to 2/2 with another Colchester scalp, that of Robert Parish. Dominic Allen (Powdermill) was also on 2 so he and Graham played in round 3. Graham's game was not improved when he left a one-move mate on, and of course Dominic did not hesitate to deliver the coup de grace. John Sneesby (Basildon) drew with Caius Turner in round 3 which forced a fourth-round pairing of the two Powdermill players, resulting in a hard-fought draw. Graham played John. This reached an ending in which Graham's knight was better than John's and this positional advantage soon delivered a coule of pawns.
In round 5, Caius won a couple of pawns against Graham's French Defence, defended accurately against the ensuing attack, and then won the ending. Dominic Allen's game against Lawrence Trent followed a very similar pattern, although Lawrence's attack at one stage looked distinctly dangerous.
In the final round, Dominic protected his half-point lead with a win over David Gunn (Maldon). David played his first and last rounds on top board, lost them both, but in the intervening period scored 3.5/4. Caius beat Katie Bates (Colchester) to take second place and Lawrence beat Graham to give the tournament a very tidy 1st, 2nd and 3rd.
The under-12 was won by Alex O'Neill (Ilford) with 6/6. This was a London Junior Qualifier and the other players to book themselves places in the Finals were Stewart Trent (Ilford) (5/6) and three sharing 3rd place with 4.5: Bobby Payne (Ilford), Joshua Rubin (Ipswich) and Heather Walker (Southend).
Edward Morris (Southend) scored an excellent 5.5/6 in the under-10. He did extremely well in round 5 to hold out Josiah Lutton (Basildon) whose king-side attack had won the exchange. Josiah decided that the time was ripe to gather a pawn or two for the endgame when suddenly his king was beseiged by rook, bishop and two pawns. Edward played a couple of checks, the second of which left Josiah with a disappointingly easy decision to make. He could move his king to h8, allowing repetition; he could play it to g8 and lose a rook; or he could play it to h6 and get mated. He wisely chose the first of these three. In the final round, Edward beat Henry Duncanson (Norfolk) whereas Alan Hawrami (Ilford) performed excellently by holding a draw against Josiah Lutton.
The under-8 section was won by David Donaghy (Ipswich, 5/6) with a four-way tie for second place amongst Nathanael Lutton (Basildon), Andrew Alexandrou (Powdermill), Abigail Flint (Galleywood) and Alex O'Toole (Southend), all of whom scored 4.
The following game was one of the entries to the best game award in the Braintree tournament which took place last month.
Slade, R (Chelmsford)- Elliston,G (Wickford)[C35]
1.e4 e5 2.f4 exf4 3.Nf3 Be7 4.Nc3 Bh4+ 5.Ke2 d5 6.Nxd5 Bg4 7.d4 Nf6 8.Nxf6+ Qxf6 9.Qd2 g5 10.Kd3 Bxf3 11.gxf3 Nc6 12.c3 Ne5+ 13.Ke2 0-0-0 14.Qc2 Nc6 15.Bh3+ Kb8 16.Qa4 Nxd4+ 17.cxd4 Rxd4 18.Qa5 Rhd8 19.Qb5 Qd6 20.b3 Rd2+ 21.Kf1 Rd1+ 22.Kg2 Qd2+ 0-1